Critical path method drill — boost your PMP exam score!

Jenny and I put together a new PMP exam preparation drill to help you study the critical path method, an important topic for the PMP exam.

We spend a lot of time talking to people who are preparing for the PMP exam, and one concept that comes up over and over is using the Critical Path Method. It’s a somewhat tricky thing to study. Project managers preparing for the exam often have trouble with it, because it’s not just something you can memorize. Which is a shame—because once you understand the ideas behind it, it’s really useful… and a quick way to get some extra points on the exam. (Not to mention that it can help you in real life too, by helping you find the activities in your project that have the most risk.)

But even though this material is important, it’s often neglected in PMP preparation materials. We’ve found that a lot of people don’t understand it very well, and take the exam anyway. And it’s not surprising. When we were studying for the PMP exam ourselves, both of us were disappointed with the lack of a good guide to really help you learn these concepts. It’s one thing to memorize a bunch of stuff for test day. But it you really want to get it, you need two things: a good understanding of the real ideas behind critical path analysis, and a lot of practice. That’s what’s in these pages. We’ll take you through the concepts and their applications, and drill you on your knowledge. By the time you finish this, you’ll have a good handle on it… and you’ll definitely do better on the exam!

Head First PMP Links:

Free Practice PMP Exam!

When Andrew and I were studying for the PMP® exam, we were really surprised to see how few free resources were out there. It was hard to find a good PMP practice exam that wasn’t an advertisement for a really expensive course or that didn’t require that you buy a book of questions, a cd, or some online class. It bothered us that there weren’t a lot of options out there for people who just wanted to study, without making a major investment.

That’s why we created a 200 question, free PMP practice exam and worked with our partners at O’Reilly to set up free forums to help our readers ace the exam. We do our best to read and respond to questions there and keep the discussions alive.

You can download the test here:

When we created the exam, we closely followed the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Examination Specification. It’s is a little harder than the questions in the book, and it’s meant to closely mimic the real thing.

If you’re looking to take the PMP soon, please download it and give it a whirl. If you have any questions, feel free to talk to us in the PMP General Discussion Forum. And if you get some time to write questions and help other people study, that’s even better.

Good luck!

PMP Study Tip: Write Your Own Questions

The PMP exam is all about questions. That’s a little obvious, I know. But think about it for a minute: you’ve got 4 hours to answer 200 questions. It’s a nerve-wracking situation if you’re not in the habit of taking exams — and few professionals are. That’s why one of the best ways that you can prepare for the PMP exam is to write your own questions.

But don’t you need to be an expert to write your own questions? Definitely not! It turns out that there are only a few ways that make sense for presenting the kind of information you’ll see on the PMP exam. Getting a good feel for them will really help you get more comfortable with the material, and it will help you separate the ideas being tested on from the wording of the question. Most of all, it will help you think more about the material, and come up with practical situations on your own for applying it. And that’s a very effective way to study.

It’s hard to know where to start, though. It turns out that writing good questions takes practice. That’s why Jenny and I added the “Question Clinic” Lose Weight Exercises to Head First PMP. It turns out that a lot of the questions on the exam fall into just a few categories. There are different strategies for each kind of question, so recognizing the question type can help you get more answers right. But even better, being familiar with how questions work can really help keep you calm on the exam, because you’re faced with a lot fewer surprises. Pretty neat, right?

Bring Your Own Questions

Our friends at O’Reilly just put up a great tool on the Head First Labs site. It’s a fill-in form that helps you build your own questions, with templates from all of the Question Clinic Lose Weight Exercises in the book that show you the different kinds of questions. Even if you aren’t using Head First PMP to study for the exam — obviously, we hope you do! — you can still use this to help get a handle on writing your own questions. (You can also feel free to use the Head First PMP forums to ask questions and get study tips.)

And don’t forget: any time you run into a fact that you don’t know, or if you get a question wrong on a practice exam, write your own question for it. It’s a great way to get the information to stick to your brain!